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Tommy Ramone from the 1970’s punk rock band the Ramones, died from bile duct cancer last week. The one-time drummer for the influential punk band only played drums for the Ramones for the first three studio albums (and first four years). Ramone died while in hospice care in New York on July 11.
Tommy stepped in as drummer for the Ramones when original drummer Joey Ramone switched to lead vocals due to his inability to keep up with the Ramones fast tempo. All four members of The Ramones took on the surname “Ramone” as a stage name, none of the members was related. Tommy (Erdelyi) Ramone switched to full-time Producer for the band in 1976 when Mark Ramone took over the position as drummer.
The Ramones put the infamous CBGB’s, one of the biggest punk venues on the map, performing in the New York landmark on a regular basis. CBGB was originally set to be a country and bluegrass establishment. CBGB stood for ‘Country Bluegrass Blues.’ The venue succumbed to the times and embraced the punk rock movement. Musicians as Television, Blondie, Patti Smith, along with the Ramones all got that their start at CBGB’s.
Tommy was the last of the remaining original Ramones. Joey Ramone, the lead vocalist, died in 2001; guitarist Johnny Ramone 2004 – both from cancer and bassist Dee Dee Ramone died from a heroin overdose 2002.
The punk quartet originally met in Forest Hills, Queens. Tommy moved to Queens from Budapest, Hungary, 1957. Tommy formed a friendship with Johnny (Cummings) Ramone. The two were in a band in High School called Tangerine Puppets. They went on to form the Ramones with Joey on lead vocal, Johnny on guitar, and Dee Dee on bass.
Tommy was the driving force behind the Ramones, the mature one if you will. Tommy was originally slated to be manager of the band and continued to fill that role since he was the one with the direction and drive. Tommy built the records and created the songs. He got the band out of bed in the morning to rehearse for the new albums and came up with the concepts. He wore several hats and played the role of director, producer, manager, performer and marketer during his long career with the Ramones. In 1977, Tommy became an independent producer and left the Ramones. He went on to produce such bands as; the Replacements and their major label debut album Tim in 1985 and Red Kross’ Neurotica in 1987.
The 65-year-old Tommy Ramone is survived by his partner; Claudia Tienan; sister-in-law Andrea Tienan; brother Peter; and nephews David and Eric.
Tommy Ramone’s death from bile duct cancers has left the Ramones’ fans and his family in mourning, but his contribution to the music world will keep his memory alive. the Ramones will forever be known as pioneers in the punk rock movement in both the U.S and UK. the Ramones work has inspired influential bands in punk such as the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Tommy Ramone and the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
By Christina Thompson